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Tools We Use: TypeTamer Returns

Back in 1995, Tonya wrote about Impossible Software’s font utility TypeTamer 1.0; the following year I bought a copy at Macworld Expo, and loved it. In 1998 I began to encounter some application conflicts, and as machines, systems, and applications advanced still further, I had to abandon it entirely. I’ve missed it ever since. Now it’s back as TypeTamer 2, and I’m happy as a clam. Forgive me for gushing, but I love this utility.



TypeTamer is a control panel and extension that acts as a Font menu organizer (so it’s incompatible with Action WYSIWYG or Adobe Type Reunion). It replaces the standard Font menu with its own, which pops out from all the places where Font menus need to appear: the Fonts menu in the menubar in Nisus Writer, the Font submenu of the Format menu in FrameMaker, the Font pop-up menu in the message window in Eudora, the Font section in Word 2001’s Formatting Palette, and so on. (You can revert to the system’s Font menu temporarily by Shift-clicking.) TypeTamer’s Font menu offers five chief features:

  • It clumps your fonts hierarchically into categories that you dictate in the control panel. For example, my Font menu now reads Basic, Display, Cursive, Special. The font names themselves are hierarchical sub-items to those. A font can belong to more than one category, and you can have an automatic extra item, All, which lists every font (a good idea if you are likely to add fonts later without remembering to give them a category). The category database is persistent, so a font which has been assigned a category can be disabled (with Font Reserve or Suitcase, for example) and then later re-enabled, and it will still be in the right category.

  • Your fonts are further automatically clumped hierarchically into families. For example, one of my Basic fonts is Garamond; there is just one Garamond menu item, with the varieties (Book, Bold, Italic, and so on) appearing as sub-items to it.

  • The font names can appear in the actual font in the menu. I don’t use this feature because the next feature obviates the need for it.

  • Each font name has an icon telling what type of font it is (TrueType, PostScript, and so on), and if you hold the mouse over the icon you see a sample of text in that font in various sizes. You dictate in the control panel what the text is. If you hold down the Option key, you see a character chart instead, which is good for inserting special characters and learning how to type them (like PopChar).


  • The first items in the Font menu are the fonts most recently used in your document. To me, that’s the best feature. Since any one document will usually use only a couple of fonts, I can easily change fonts by using just these first items in the menu; I never have to dive into the hierarchical part at all.

The magic being worked here is fairly deep, so conflicts are a worry. So far, though, I’ve had no serious problems. TypeTamer turns all my HyperCard stack windows blue, and not every feature works in every application (for instance, you can’t use the special character insertion feature in Nisus Writer); but these are both minor issues I can live with. I hope you’ll at least try TypeTamer’s demo and see for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

TypeTamer 2 costs $50 and requires a Mac running System 7 or later, with at least 4 MB of RAM. A 30-day demo is available as a 664K download.


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